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Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila
EN BANC
THE CIVIL SERVICE G.R. No. 187858
COMMISSION,
Petitioner, Present:
CORONA, C.J.,
CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
- versus - BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,*
ABAD,**
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,
MENDOZA,** and
SERENO, JJ.
Promulgated:
RICHARD G. CRUZ,
Respondent. AUGUST 9, 2011
x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BRION, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari assails the decision[1] and the
resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 105410. These
assailed CA rulings reversed and set aside the ruling of the Civil Service
Commission (CSC) in Resolution No. 080305[3] that denied respondent
Richard G. Cruzs prayer for the award of back salaries as a result of his
reinstatement to his former position.
THE FACTS
The respondent, Storekeeper A of the City of Malolos Water District
(CMWD), was charged with grave misconduct and dishonesty by CMWD

General Manager (GM) Nicasio Reyes. He allegedly uttered a false,


malicious and damaging statement (Masasamang tao ang mga BOD at
General Manager) against GM Reyes and the rest of the CMWD Board of
Directors (Board); four of the respondents subordinates allegedly witnessed
the utterance. The dishonesty charge, in turn, stemmed from the respondents
act of claiming overtime pay despite his failure to log in and out in the
computerized daily time record for three working days.
The respondent denied the charges against him. On the charge of grave
misconduct, he stressed that three of the four witnesses already retracted
their statements against him. On the charge of dishonesty, he asserted that he
never failed to log in and log out. He reasoned that the lack of record was
caused by technical computer problems. The respondent submitted
documents showing that he rendered overtime work on the three days that
the CMWD questioned.
GM Reyes preventively suspended the respondent for 15 days. Before the
expiration of his preventive suspension, however, GM Reyes, with the
approval of the CMWD Board, found the respondent guilty of grave
misconduct and dishonesty, and dismissed him from the service.[4]

CSC RULING
The respondent elevated the findings of the CMWD and his dismissal to the
CSC, which absolved him of the two charges and ordered his
reinstatement. In CSC Resolution No. 080305, the CSC found no factual
basis to support the charges of grave misconduct and dishonesty.
In ruling that the respondent was not liable for grave misconduct, the
CSC held:
Cruz was adjudged guilty of grave misconduct for his alleged utterance of
such maligning statements, MASASAMANG TAO ANG MGA BOD AT
GENERAL MANAGER. However, such utterance, even if it were true,
does not constitute a flagrant disregard of rule or was actuated by corrupt

motive. To the mind of the Commission, it was a mere expression of


disgust over the management style of the GM and the Board of Directors,
especially when due notice is taken of the fact that the latter officials were
charged with the Ombudsman for various anomalous transactions.[5]

In ruling that the charge of dishonesty had no factual basis, the CSC
declared:
Based on the records of the case, the Commission is not swayed that the
failure of Cruz to record his attendance on April 21 and 22, 2007 and May
5, 2007, while claiming overtime pay therefor, amounts to dishonesty.
Cruz duly submitted evidence showing his actual rendition of work on
those days. The residents of the place where he worked attested to his
presence thereat on the days in question.[6]

The CSC, however, found the respondent liable for violation of


reasonable office rules for his failure to log in and log out. It imposed on
him the penalty of reprimand but did not order the payment of back salaries.
The CMWD and the respondent separately filed motions for
reconsideration against the CSC ruling. CMWD questioned the CSCs
findings and the respondents reinstatement. The respondent, for his part,
claimed that he is entitled to back salaries in light of his exoneration from
the charges of grave misconduct and dishonesty. The CSC denied both
motions.
Both the CMWD and the respondent elevated the CSC ruling to the
CA via separate petitions for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of
Court. The CA dismissed the CMWDs petition and this ruling has lapsed to
finality.[7] Hence, the issue of reinstatement is now a settled matter. As
outlined below, the CA ruled in the respondents favor on the issue of back
salaries. This ruling is the subject of the present petition with us.
CA RULING
Applying the ruling in Bangalisan v. Hon. CA,[8] the CA found merit
in the respondents appeal and awarded him back salaries from the time he
was dismissed up to his actual reinstatement. The CA reasoned out that CSC
Resolution No. 080305 totally exonerated the respondent from the charges
laid against him. The CA considered the charge of dishonesty successfully

refuted as the respondent showed that he performed overtime service. The


CA thereby rejected the CSCs contention that the charge of dishonesty had
been merely downgraded to a lesser offense; the CA saw the finding in CSC
Resolution No. 080305 to be for an offense (failing to properly record his
attendance) entirely different from the dishonesty charge because their
factual bases are different. Thus, to the CA, CSC Resolution No. 080305 did
not wholly restore the respondents rights as an exonerated employee as it
failed to order the payment of his back salaries. The CA denied the CSCs
motion for reconsideration.
ISSUE
WHETHER OR NOT [THE] RESPONDENT IS ENTITLED TO
BACK SALARIES AFTER THE CSC ORDERED HIS
REINSTATEMENT TO HIS FORMER POSITION, CONSONANT
WITH THE CSC RULING THAT HE WAS GUILTY ONLY OF
VIOLATION OF REASONABLE OFFICE RULES AND
REGULATIONS.[9]

CSCs position
The CSC submits that the CA erred in applying the ruling in Bangalisan,
requiring as a condition for entitlement to back salaries that the government
employee be found innocent of the charge and that the suspension be
unjustified. CSC Resolution No. 080305 did not fully exculpate the
respondent but found him liable for a lesser offense. Likewise, the
respondents preventive suspension pending appeal was justified because he
was not exonerated.
The CSC also submits that the factual considerations in Bangalisan are
entirely different from the circumstances of the present case. In Bangalisan,
the employee, Rodolfo Mariano, a public school teacher, was charged with
grave misconduct for allegedly participating, together with his fellow
teachers, in an illegal mass action. He was ordered exonerated from the
misconduct charge because of proof that he did not actually participate in the
mass action, but was absent from work for another reason. Although the
employee was found liable for violation of office rules and regulations, he
was considered totally exonerated because his infraction stemmed from an

act entirely different (his failure to file a leave of absence) from the act that
was the basis of the grave misconduct charge (the unjustified abandonment
of classes to the prejudice of the students).
The CSC argues that in the present case, the charge of dishonesty and
the infraction committed by the respondent stemmed from a single act his
failure to properly record his attendance. Thus, the respondent cannot be
considered totally exonerated; the charge of dishonesty was merely
downgraded to a violation of reasonable office rules and regulations.
Accordingly, the CSC posits that the case should have been decided
according to our rulings in Jacinto v. CA[10] and De la Cruz v. CA[11] where
we held the award of back salaries to be inappropriate because the teachers
involved were not fully exonerated from the charges laid against them.
The respondents position
The respondent maintains that he is entitled to reinstatement and back
salaries because CSC Resolution No. 080305 exonerated him from the
charges laid against him; for the purpose of entitlement to back salaries,
what should control is his exoneration from the charges leveled against him
by the CMWD. That the respondent was found liable for a violation different
from that originally charged is immaterial for purposes of the back salary
issue.
The respondent also asserts that the Bangalisan ruling squarely applies since
the CSC formally admitted in its Comment to CMWDs petition for review
before the CA that the penalty of reprimand is not a reduced penalty for the
penalty of dismissal imposable for grave misconduct and dishonesty.[12]
THE COURTS RULING
We deny the petition for lack of merit.
The issue of entitlement to back salaries, for the period of suspension
pending appeal,[13] of a government employee who had been dismissed but

was subsequently exonerated is settled in our jurisdiction. The Courts


starting point for this outcome is the no work-no pay principle public
officials are only entitled to compensation if they render service. We have
excepted from this general principle and awarded back salaries even for
unworked days to illegally dismissed or unjustly suspended employees
based on the constitutional provision that no officer or employee in the civil
service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law;
[14]
to deny these employees their back salaries amounts to unwarranted
punishment after they have been exonerated from the charge that led to their
dismissal or suspension.[15]
The present legal basis for an award of back salaries is Section 47,
Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987.
Section 47. Disciplinary Jurisdiction. x x x.
(4) An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory, and in case
the penalty is suspension or removal, the respondent shall be considered
as having been under preventive suspensionduring the pendency of the
appeal in the event he wins an appeal. (italics ours)

This provision, however, on its face, does not support a claim for back
salaries since it does not expressly provide for back salaries during this
period; our established rulings hold that back salaries may not be awarded
for the period of preventive suspension[16] as the law itself authorizes its
imposition so that its legality is beyond question.
To resolve the seeming conflict, the Court crafted two conditions
before an employee may be entitled to back salaries: a) the employee must
be found innocent of the charges and b) his suspension must be unjustified.
[17]
The reasoning behind these conditions runs this way: although an
employee is considered under preventive suspension during the pendency of
a successful appeal, the law itself only authorizes preventive suspension for
a fixed period; hence, his suspension beyond this fixed period is unjustified
and must be compensated.

The CSCs rigid and mechanical application of these two conditions may
have resulted from a misreading of our rulings on the matter; hence, a look
at our jurisprudence appears in order.
Basis for award of back salaries

The Court had the occasion to rule on the issue of entitlement to back
salaries as early as 1941,[18] when Section 260 of the Revised Administrative
Code of 1917 (RAC)[19] was the governing law. The Court held that a
government employee, who was suspended from work pending final action
on his administrative case, is not entitled to back salaries where he was
ultimately removed due to the valid appointment of his successor. No
exoneration or reinstatement, of course, was directly involved in this case;
thus, the question of back salaries after exoneration and reinstatement did
not directly arise. The Court, however, made the general statement that:
As a general proposition, a public official is not entitled to any
compensation if he has not rendered any service, and the justification
for the payment of salary during the period of suspension is that the
suspension was unjustified or that the official was innocent. Hence, the
requirement that, to entitle to payment of salary during suspension, there
must be either reinstatement of the suspended person or exoneration if
death should render reinstatement impossible.[20] (emphasis and
underscoring ours)

In Austria v. Auditor General,[21] a high school principal, who was


penalized with demotion, claimed payment of back salaries from the time of
his suspension until his appointment to the lower position to which he was
demoted. He argued that his later appointment even if only to a lower
position of classroom teacher amounted to a reinstatement under Section 260
of the RAC. The Court denied his claim, explaining that the reinstatement
under Section 260 of the RAC refers to the same position from which the
subordinate officer or employee was suspended and, therefore, does not
include demotional appointments. The word reinstatement was apparently
equated to exoneration.

In the 1961 case of Gonzales v. Hon. Hernandez, etc. and


Fojas interpreting the same provision, the Court first laid down the
requisites for entitlement to back salaries.Said the Court:
[22]

A perusal of the decisions of this Court [23] x x x show[s] that back salaries
are ordered paid to an officer or an employee only if he is exonerated
of the charge against him and his suspension or dismissal is found and
declared to be illegal. In the case at bar, [the employee] was not
completely exonerated, because although the decision of the
Commissioner of Civil Service [ordering separation from service] was
modified and [the employee] was allowed to be reinstated, the decision
[imposed upon the employee the penalty of two months suspension
without pay]. [emphasis and underscoring ours]

Obviously, no exoneration actually resulted and no back salary was due; the
liability for the offense charged remained, but a lesser penalty was imposed.
In Villamor, et al. v. Hon. Lacson, et al.,[24] the City Mayor ordered the
dismissal from the service of city employees after finding them guilty as
charged. On appeal, however, the decision was modified by considering the
suspension of over one year x x x, already suffered x x x [to be] sufficient
punishment[25] and by ordering their immediate reinstatement to the
service. The employees thereupon claimed that under Section 695 of the
RAC, the punishment of suspension without pay cannot exceed two (2)
months. Since the period they were not allowed to work until their
reinstatement exceeded two months, they should be entitled to back salaries
corresponding to the period in excess of two months. In denying the
employees claim for back salaries, the Court held:
The fallacy of [the employees] argument springs from their assumption
that the modified decision had converted the penalty to that of suspension.
The modified decision connotes that although dismissal or resignation
would be the proper penalty, the separation from work for the period until
their reinstatement, would be deemed sufficient. Said decision did not, in
the least, insinuate that suspension should have been the penalty.
x x x [T]he modified decision did not exonerate the petitioners.
x x x And even if we consider the punishment as suspension, before a
public official or employee is entitled to payment of salaries withheld, it
should be shown that the suspension was unjustified or that the employee
was innocent of the charges proffered against him.[26]

On the whole, these rulings left the application of the conditions for
the award of back salaries far from clear. Jurisprudence did not strictly
observe the requirements earlier enunciated in Gonzales as under subsequent
rulings, the innocence of the employee alone served as basis for the award of
back salaries.
The innocence of the employee as sole
basis for an award of back salaries

In Tan v. Gimenez, etc., and Aguilar, etc.,[27] we ruled that the payment
of back salary to a government employee, who was illegally removed from
office because of his eventual exoneration on appeal, is merely incidental to
the ordered reinstatement.
Tan was subsequently reiterated in Taala v. Legaspi, et al.,[28] a case
involving an employee who was administratively dismissed from the service
following his conviction in the criminal case arising from the same facts as
in the administrative case. On appeal, however, he was acquitted of the
criminal charge and was ultimately ordered reinstated by the Office of the
President. Failing to secure his actual reinstatement, he filed
a mandamus petition to compel his superiors to reinstate him and to pay his
back salaries from the date of his suspension to the date of his actual
reinstatement. We found merit in his plea and held:
[The employee] had been acquitted of the criminal charges x x x, and the
President had reversed the decision x x x in the administrative case which
ordered his separation from the service, and the President had ordered his
reinstatement to his position, it results that the suspension and the
separation from the service of the [employee] were thereby considered
illegal. x x x.
x x x [In this case,] by virtue of [the Presidents order of
reinstatement], [the employees] suspension and separation from the
service x x x was thereby declared illegal, so that for all intents and
purposes he must be considered as not having been separated from his
office. The lower court has correctly held that the [employee] is entitled to
back salaries.[29]

The Taala ruling was reiterated in Cristobal v. Melchor,[30] Tan, Jr. v.


Office of the President,[31] De Guzman v. CSC[32] and Del Castillo v.
CSC[33] - cases involving government employees who were dismissed after
being found administratively liable, but who were subsequently exonerated
on appeal.
In Garcia v. Chairman Commission on Audit,[34] the Court held that
where the employee, who was dismissed after being found administratively
liable for dishonesty, wasacquitted on a finding of innocence in the criminal
case (for qualified theft) based on the same acts for which he was dismissed
the executive pardon granted him in the administrative case (in light of his
prior acquittal) entitled him to back salaries from the time of his illegal
dismissal up to his actual reinstatement.
The above situation should be distinguished from the case of an
employee who was dismissed from the service after conviction of a crime
and who was ordered reinstated after being granted pardon. We held that he
was not entitled to back salaries since he was not illegally dismissed nor
acquitted of the charge against him.[35]
Incidentally, under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, [36] if the
public official or employee is acquitted of the criminal charge/s specified in
the law, he is entitled to reinstatement and the back salaries withheld during
his suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings have been
filed against him.
In Tan, Jr. v. Office of the President,[37] the Court clarified that the
silence of Section 42 (Lifting of Preventive Suspension Pending
Administrative Investigation) of the Civil Service Decree[38] on the payment
of back salaries, unlike its predecessor,[39] is no reason to deny back salaries
to a dismissed civil servant who was ultimately exonerated.
Section 42 of P.D. No. 807, however, is really not in point x x x
[as] it does not cover dismissed civil servants who are ultimately
exonerated and ordered reinstated to their former or equivalent positions.
The rule in the latter instance, just as we have said starting with the case
of Cristobal vs. Melchor is that when "a government official or employee
in the classified civil service had been illegally dismissed, and his

reinstatement had later been ordered, for all legal purposes he is


considered as not having left his office, so that he is entitled to all the
rights and privileges that accrue to him by virtue of the office that he
held."[40]

These cited cases illustrate that a black and white observance of the
requisites in Gonzales is not required at all times. The common thread in
these cases is either the employeescomplete exoneration of the
administrative charge against him (i.e., the employee is not found guilty
of any other offense), or the employees acquittal of the criminal charge
based on his innocence. If the case presented falls on either of these
instances, the conditions laid down in Gonzales become the two sides of the
same coin; the requirement that the suspension must be unjustified is
automatically subsumed in the other requirement of exoneration.
Illegal suspension as sole basis for an
award of back salaries

By
requiring
the
concurrence
of
the
two
conditions, Gonzales apparently made a distinction between exoneration and
unjustified suspension/dismissal. This distinction runs counter to the notion
that if an employee is exonerated, the exoneration automatically makes an
employees suspension unjustified. However, in Abellera v. City of Baguio, et
al.,[41] the Court had the occasion to illustrate the independent character of
these two conditions so that the mere illegality of an employees suspension
could serve as basis for an award of back salaries.
Abellera, a cashier in the Baguio City Treasurers Office, was ordered
dismissed from the service after being found guilty of dishonesty and gross
negligence. Even before the period to appeal expired, the City
of Baguio dismissed him from the service. On appeal, however, the penalty
imposed on him was reduced to two months suspension, without pay
although the appealed decision was affirmed in all other respects.
When the issue of Abelleras entitlement to back salaries reached the
Court, we considered the illegality of Abelleras suspension - i.e., from the

time he was dismissed up to the time of his actual reinstatement to be a


sufficient ground to award him back salaries.
The rule on payment of back salaries during the period of
suspension of a member of the civil service who is subsequently ordered
reinstated, is already settled in this jurisdiction. Such payment of salaries
corresponding to the period when an employee is not allowed to work may
be decreed not only if he is found innocent of the charges which caused
his suspension (Sec. 35, RA 2260), but also when the suspension is
unjustified.
In the present case, upon receipt of the [Civil Service
Commissioners] decision x x x finding [Abellera] guilty, but even before
the period to appeal had expired, [the Baguio Cityofficials] dismissed
[Abellera] from the service and another one was appointed to replace
him. [Abelleras] separation x x x before the decision of the Civil
Service Commissioner had become final was evidently
premature. [The Baguio City officials] should have realized that
[Abellera] still had the right to appeal the Commissioner's decision to the
Civil Service Board of Appeals within a specified period, and the
possibility of that decision being reversed or modified. [42] As it did happen
on such appeal x x x the penalty imposed by the Commissioner was
reduced x x x to only 2 months suspension. And yet, by
[the Baguio City officials] action, [Abellera] was deprived of work for
more than 2 years. Clearly, Abelleras second suspension from
office [i.e., from the time he was dismissed up to his actual
reinstatement] was unjustified, and the payment of the salaries
corresponding to said period is, consequently, proper.[43](emphases and
underscoring ours)

The import of the Abellera ruling was explained by the Court in the
subsequent case of Yarcia v. City of Baguio[44] that involved substantially
similar facts. The Court clarified that the award of back salaries
in Abellera was based on the premature execution of the decision (ordering
the employees dismissal from the service), resulting in the employees
unjustified second suspension. Under the then Civil Service Rules, the
Commissioner of Civil Service had the discretion to order the immediate
execution of his decision in administrative cases in the interest of public
service. Unlike in Abellera, this discretion was exercised in Yarcia;
consequently, the employees separation from the service pending his appeal
remained valid and effective until it was set aside and modified with the
imposition of the lesser penalty.[45]

The unjustified second suspension mentioned in Abellera actually


refers to the period when the employee was dismissed from the service up
to the time of his actual reinstatement. Under our present legal landscape,
this period refers to suspension pending appeal.[46]
In Miranda v. Commission on Audit,[47] the Court again had the
occasion to consider the illegality of the suspension of the employee as a
separate ground to award back salaries. Following the filing of several
administrative charges against him, Engr. Lamberto Miranda was
preventively suspended from June 2, 1978 to May 7, 1986. He was
reinstated on May 22, 1986. On October 7, 1986, the administrative case
against him was finally dismissed for lack of evidence. When his claim for
back salaries (from the time he was preventively suspended up to his actual
reinstatement) was denied by the Commission on Audit, he brought
a certiorari petition with this Court.
In granting the petition, the Court ruled that since the law [48] limits the
duration of preventive suspension to a fixed period, Engr. Mirandas
suspension for almost eight (8) years is unreasonable and unjustified.
Additionally, the Court observed that the dropping of the administrative case
against Engr. Miranda for lack of evidence is even an eloquent manifestation
that the suspension is unjustified.[49] The Court held:
This being so, Engineer Miranda is entitled to backwages during the
period of his suspension as it is already settled in this jurisdiction that a
government official or employee is entitled to backwages not only if he is
exonerated in the administrative case but also when the suspension is
unjustified.[50] (emphases and underscoring ours)

Jurisprudential definition of exoneration


The mere reduction of the penalty on appeal does not entitle a
government employee to back salaries if he was not exonerated of the charge
against him. This is the Courts teaching in City Mayor of Zamboanga v. CA.
[51]
In this case, the employee was initially found guilty of disgraceful and
immoral conduct and was given the penalty of dismissal by the City Mayor
of Zamboanga. On appeal, however, the CA limited the employees guilt to
improper conduct and correspondingly reduced the penalty to six-months
suspension without pay with a stern warning that repetition of the same or

similar offense will be dealt with more severely." [52] The CA also awarded
him full backwages.[53]
We held that the CA erred in awarding back salaries by reiterating the
principle that back salaries may be ordered paid to an officer or employee
only if he is exonerated of the charge against him and his suspension or
dismissal is found and declared to be illegal.[54]
The Court had the occasion to explain what constitutes exoneration
in Bangalisan v. Hon. CA,[55] the respondents cited case. In this case, the
Secretary of Education found the public school teachers guilty as charged
and imposed on them the penalty of dismissal. On appeal, the CSC affirmed
the Secretarys ruling but reduced the penalty imposed to suspension without
pay. However, the CSC found one of the teachers (Mariano) guilty only of
violation of reasonable office rules and regulations, and only penalized her
with reprimand. None of the petitioning public school teachers were
awarded back salaries.
On appeal to this Court, we awarded back salaries to Mariano. We
explained that since the factual premise of the administrative charges against
him - i.e., his alleged participation in the illegal mass actions, and his
suspension - was amply rebutted, then Mariano was in effect exonerated of
the charges against him and was, thus, entitled to back salaries for the period
of his suspension pending appeal.
With respect to petitioner Rodolfo Mariano, payment of his back
wages is in order. A reading of the resolution of the [CSC] will show that
he was exonerated of the charges which formed the basis for his
suspension. The Secretary of the DECS charged him with and he was later
found guilty of grave misconduct x x x [and] conduct prejudicial to the
best interest of the service x x x for his participation in the mass actions x
x x. It was his alleged participation in the mass actions that was the basis
of his preventive suspension and, later, his dismissal from the service.
However, the [CSC], in the questioned resolution, made [the]
finding that Mariano was not involved in the "mass actions" but was
absent because he was in Ilocos Sur to attend the wake and interment of
his grandmother. Although the CSC imposed upon him the penalty of
reprimand, the same was for his violation of reasonable office rules and

regulations because he failed to inform the school or his intended absence


and neither did he file an application for leave covering such absences.
xxxx
However, with regard to the other petitioners, the payment of their
back wages must be denied. Although the penalty imposed on them was
only suspension, they were not completely exonerated of the charges
against them. The CSC made specific findings that, unlike petitioner
Mariano, they indeed participated in the mass actions. It will be noted that
it was their participation in the mass actions that was the very basis of the
charges against them and their subsequent suspension.[56]

Bangalisan clearly laid down the principle that if the exoneration of


the employee is relative (as distinguished from complete exoneration), an
inquiry into the factual premise of the offense charged and of the offense
committed must be made. If the administrative offense found to have been
actually committed is of lesser gravity than the offense charged, the
employee cannot be considered exonerated if the factual premise for the
imposition of the lesser penalty remains the same. The employee found
guilty of a lesser offense may only be entitled to back salaries when the
offense actually committed does not carry the penalty of more than one
month suspension or dismissal.[57]
Bangalisan reiterated that the payment of back salaries, during the
period of suspension of a member of the civil service who is subsequently
ordered reinstated, may be decreed only if the employee is found innocent of
the charges which caused the suspension and when the suspension is
unjustified. This pronouncement was re-echoed in Jacinto v. CA,[58] De la
Cruz v. CA,[59] and Hon. Gloria v. CA.[60] Taking off from Bangalisan, the
Court in De la Cruz categorically stated:
The issue of whether back wages may be awarded to teachers
ordered reinstated to the service after the dismissal orders x x x were
commuted by the CSC to six (6) months suspension is already settled.
In Bangalisan v. Court of Appeals, we resolved the issue in the
negative on the ground that the teachers were neither exonerated nor
unjustifiably suspended, two (2) circumstances necessary for the grant
of back wages in administrative disciplinary cases.[61]

In Hon. Gloria, involving


the
same
factual
situation
as Bangalisan, the CA awarded the public school teachers back salaries - for
the period beyond the allowable period of preventive suspension - since they
were ultimately exonerated. In affirming the CA, the Court
distinguished preventive suspension from suspension pending appeal for the
purpose of determining the extent of an employees entitlement to back
salaries. The Court ruled that under Executive Order (E.O.) No. 292, there
are two kinds of preventive suspension of civil service employees who are
charged with offenses punishable by removal or suspension: (i) preventive
suspension pending investigation[62] and (ii) preventive suspension pending
appeal;[63] compensation is due only for the period of preventive
suspension pending appeal should the employee be ultimately exonerated.
[64]
Citing Floyd R. Mechem's A Treatise on the Law of Public Offices and
Officers,[65] Hon. Gloria ruled:
Thus, it is not enough that an employee is exonerated of the
charges against him. In addition, his suspension must be unjustified. The
case of Bangalisan v. Court of Appeals itself similarly states that "payment
of salaries corresponding to the period [1] when an employee is not
allowed to work may be decreed if he is found innocent of the charges
which caused his suspension and [2] when the suspension is unjustified.
[66]
(emphases and underscoring ours)

A careful reading of these cases would reveal that a strict observance of the
second condition for an award of back salaries becomes important only if the
employee is not totally innocent of any administrative infraction. As
previously discussed, where the employee is completely exonerated of the
administrative charge or acquitted in the criminal case arising from the same
facts based on a finding of innocence, the second requirement becomes
subsumed in the first. Otherwise, a determination of the act/s and offense/s
actually committed and of the corresponding penalty imposed has to be
made.
Unjustified suspension

On the suspension/dismissal aspect, this second condition is met upon


a showing that the separation from office is not warranted under the
circumstances because the government employee gave no cause for

suspension or dismissal. This squarely applies in cases where the


government employee did not commit the offense charged, punishable by
suspension or dismissal (total exoneration); or the government employee is
found guilty of another offense for an act different from that for which he
was charged.
Bangalisan, Jacinto and De la Cruz illustrate
the application of the two conditions

Both the CA and the respondent applied Bangalisan to justify the award of
back salaries. The CSC argues against this position with the claim that the
rulings in Jacinto and De laCruz, not Bangalisan, should apply. After due
consideration, we see no reason why the cited rulings and their application
should be pitted against one another; they essentially espouse the same
conclusions after applying the two conditions for the payment of back
salaries.
Bangalisan, Jacinto and De la Cruz all stemmed from the illegal mass
actions of public school teachers in Metro Manila in 1990. The teachers
were charged with grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and gross
violation of civil service law, rules and regulations, among others. The then
Secretary of Education found them guilty and dismissed them from the
service. The CSC, on appeal, ordered the teachers reinstated, but withheld
the grant of their back salaries. The CSC found the teachers liable for
conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and imposed on them
the penalty of suspension. The CSC reasoned that since the teachers were
not totally exculpated from the charge (but were found guilty of a lesser
offense), they could not be awarded back salaries.
When these cases reached the Court, the issue of the teachers
entitlement to back salaries was raised. The teachers claimed that they were
entitled to back salaries from the time of their dismissal or suspension until
their reinstatement, arguing that they were totally exonerated from the
charges since they were found guilty only of conduct prejudicialto the best
interest of the service.

Under this factual backdrop, we applied the two conditions and


distinguished between the teachers who were absent from their respective
classes because they participated in the illegal mass action, on one hand,
and the teachers who were absent for some other reason, on the other hand.
With respect to the teachers who participated in the illegal mass
actions, we ruled that they were not entitled to back salaries since they were
not exonerated. We explained that liability for a lesser offense, carrying a
penalty less than dismissal, is not equivalent to exoneration. On the second
condition, we ruled that their suspension is not unjustified since they have
given a ground for their suspension i.e., the unjustified abandonment of their
classes to the prejudice of their students, the very factual premise of the
administrative charges against them for which they were suspended.
With respect to the teachers who were away from their classes but did
not participate in the illegal strike, the Court awarded them back salaries,
considering that: first, they did not commit the act for which they were
dismissed and suspended; and second, they were found guilty of another
offense, i.e., violation of reasonable office rules and regulations which is not
penalized with suspension or dismissal. The Court ruled that these teachers
were totally exonerated of the charge, and found their dismissal and
suspension likewise unjustified since the offense they were found to have
committed only merited the imposition of the penalty of reprimand.
These cases show the Courts consistent stand in determining the
propriety of the award of back salaries. The government employees must not
only be found innocent of the charges; their suspension must likewise be
shown to be unjustified.
The Present Case
We find that the CA was correct in awarding the respondent his back
salaries during the period he was suspended from work, following his
dismissal until his reinstatement to his former position. The records show

that the charges of grave misconduct and dishonesty against him were not
substantiated. As the CSC found, there was no corrupt motive showing
malice on the part of the respondent in making the complained utterance.
Likewise, the CSC found that the charge of dishonesty was well refuted by
the respondents evidence showing that he rendered overtime work on the
days in question.
We fully respect the factual findings of the CSC especially since the CA
affirmed these factual findings. However, on the legal issue of the
respondents entitlement to back salaries, we are fully in accord with the CAs
conclusion that the two conditions to justify the award of back salaries exist
in the present case.
The first condition was met since the offense which the respondent
was found guilty of (violation of reasonable rules and regulations) stemmed
from an act (failure to log in and log out) different from the act of dishonesty
(claiming overtime pay despite his failure to render overtime work) that he
was charged with.
The second condition was met as the respondents committed offense
merits neither dismissal from the service nor suspension (for more than one
month), but only reprimand.
In sum, the respondent is entitled to back salaries from the time he
was dismissed by the CMWD until his reinstatement to his former position
- i.e., for the period of his preventive suspension pending appeal. For the
period of his preventive suspension pending investigation, the respondent is
not entitled to any back salaries per our ruling in Hon. Gloria.[67]
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. Costs against the
petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

TERESITAJ. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

(no part)
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice

(on leave)
ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

(on leave)
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
Associate Justice
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Associate Justice
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified


that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

No part.
On official leave.
[1]
Penned by Associate Justice (now Supreme Court Associate Justice) Mariano C. del Castillo, and
concurred in by Associate Justices Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa (ret.) and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr.; dated
February 20, 2009. Rollo, pp. 32-43.
[2]
Dated May 8, 2009; id. at 44-45.
[3]
Penned by Commissioner Mary Ann Z. Fernandez-Mendoza; id. at 250-258.
[4]
CMWD Memorandum No. 31-07 dated June 6, 2007; id. at 60.
[5]
Id. at 72-73.
[6]
Id. at 73.
[7]
Docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 104704, entitled The City of Malolos Water District v. Civil Service
Commission and Richard G. Cruz. The CA Decision promulgated on June 25, 2010 became final and
executory on July 29, 2010, per Entry of Judgment dated January 10, 2011.
[8]
342 Phil. 586 (1997).
[9]
Rollo, p. 21.
[10]
346 Phil. 656 (1997).
[11]
364 Phil. 786 (1999).
[12]
Rollo, p. 282.
[13]
Hon. Gloria v. CA, 365 Phil. 744 (1999).
[14]
This provision uniformly exists in the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.
[15]
Tan v. Gimenez, etc., and Aguilar, etc., 107 Phil. 17 (1960).
[16]
Hon. Gloria v. CA, supra note 13.
[17]
Bangalisan v. CA, supra note 8.
[18]
Reyes v. Hernandez, 71 Phil. 397 (1941).
[19]
Section 260 of the RAC reads:
Payment of salary accruing pending suspension. When the chief of a Bureau or
Office suspends a subordinate officer or employee from duty, the person suspended shall
not receive pay during suspension unless the Department Head shall so order; but upon
subsequent reinstatement of the suspended person or upon his exoneration, if death
should render reinstatement impossible, any salary so withheld shall be paid, but without
prejudice to the application of the disciplinary provisions of section six hundred and
ninety-five hereof.
[20]
Reyes v. Hernandez, supra note 18, at 398.
[21]
No. L-21918, January 24, 1967, 19 SCRA 79.
[22]
112 Phil. 160, 166 (1961).
[23]
Gonzales v. Hernandez, ibid., did not specify the cases it relied upon for its pronouncement. A survey of
prior jurisprudence, however, reveals the following as bases: Reyes v. Hernandez, supra note 18;
Batungbakal v. National Development Company, 93 Phil. 182 (1953); National Rice and Corn Corp.
v. NARIC Workers Union, 98 Phil. 563 (1956); Tabora v. Montelibano, et al., 98 Phil. 800 (1956); and Tan
v. Gimenez, etc., and Aguilar, etc., supra note 15.
[24]
120 Phil. 1213 (1964).
[25]
Id. at 1215.
[26]
Id. at 1218-1219.
[27]
Supra note 15.
[28]
121 Phil. 541 (1965).
[29]
Id. at 551-553.
[30]
189 Phil. 658 (1980).
[31]
G.R. No. 110936, February 4, 1994, 229 SCRA 677.
[32]
G.R. No. 101105, March 11, 1994, 231 SCRA 169. The illegality of the dismissal in this case resulted
from the invalidity of the reorganization that authorized the employees dismissal.
[33]
343 Phil. 734 (1997).
[34]
G.R. No. 75025, September 14, 1993, 226 SCRA 356, 362-363.
**

[35]

Sabello v. Department of Education, Culture and Sports, 259 Phil. 1109, 1114 (1989).
Section 13 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019 reads:
Suspension and loss of benefits. Any incumbent public officer against whom any
criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of
the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public
funds or property whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of
execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office.
Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits
under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the
salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime
administrative proceedings have been filed against him.
[37]
Supra note 31.
[38]
Section 42 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 807 reads:
Lifting of Preventive Suspension Pending Administrative Investigation. When
the administrative case against the officer of employee under preventive suspension is not
finally decided by the disciplining authority within the period of ninety (90) days after the
date of suspension of the respondent who is not a presidential appointee, the respondent
shall be automatically reinstated in the service: Provided, That when the delay in the
disposition of the case is due to the fault, negligence or petition of the respondent, the
period of delay shall not be counted in computing the period of suspension herein
provided.
[39]
R.A. No. 2260 or Civil Service Act of 1959. Section 35 of R.A. No. 2260 reads:
Lifting of Preventive Suspension Pending Administrative Investigation. When
the administrative case against the officer or employee under preventive suspension is not
finally decided by the Commissioner of Civil Service within the period of sixty (60) days
after the date of suspension of the respondent, the respondent shall be reinstated in the
service. If the respondent officer or employee is exonerated, he shall be restored to his
position with full pay for the period of suspension. (italics ours)
[40]
Tan, Jr. v. Office of the President, supra note 31, at 679.
[41]
No. L-23957, March 18, 1967, 19 SCRA 600.
[42]
Under Section 28 of the Civil Service Rules implementing R.A. No. 2260 (Civil Service Act of 1959),
the Commissioner of Civil Service has the discretion to order the immediate execution of his decision in
administrative cases (J. Barredos Dissent in Yarcia v. City of Baguio, etc., 144 Phil. 351 [1970]).
[43]
See Neeland v. Villanueva, Jr., A.M. No. P-99-1316, August 31, 2001, 364 SCRA 204, 217, where the
Court awarded back salaries to a Clerk of Court and Ex-officio Provincial Sheriff, whom the Court ordered
dismissed from the service for gross misconduct. The resolution of dismissal was immediately
implemented. On reconsideration, however, the Court found him guilty of simple neglect of duty and
imposed on him only the penalty of fine. In granting his subsequent request for back salaries from the time
of his dismissal until his reinstatement, the Court considered, among others, the prematurity of the
immediate execution of the resolution of dismissal as basis for the award.
[44]
Supra note 42.
[45]
Citing Villamor, et al. v. Hon. Lacson, et al., supra note 24, which was also cited in Sales v. Mathay, Sr.,
etc., et al., 214 Phil. 153 (1984).
[46]
See Bautista v. Peralta, No. L-21967, September 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 223, where the Court considered
the second suspension mentioned in Abellera v. City of Baguio, et al., supra note 41, as a preventive
suspension. At the time, R.A. No. 2260 allows the payment of back salaries for the entire period of
suspension in the event of exoneration. At present, there is a clear legal distinction between preventive
suspension (i.e., suspension pending investigation) and suspension pending appeal.
[47]
G.R. No. 84613, August 16, 1991, 200 SCRA 657.
[48]
Section 35 of R.A. No. 2260 and Section 42 of P.D. No. 807.
[49]
Miranda v. Commission on Audit, supra note 47, at 662.
[50]
Ibid.
[51]
G.R. No. 80270, February 27, 1990, 182 SCRA 785.
[52]
Id. at 788.
[53]
Ibid.
[54]
The Court also relied on Section 78 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 337 which required that an employee
must be exonerated of the charges in order that he may be paid his back salaries. See also Yarcia v. City of
Baguio, supra note 42, where the Court held that the mere reduction, on appeal, of the penalty imposed
(from dismissal to a fine of six months pay), without however exonerating the employee from the charge
(of dishonesty) against him, does not entitle him to back salaries.
[55]
Supra note 8.
[56]
Id. at 598-599.
[57]
If the proper penalty imposable for the offense actually committed does not exceed one month, then
there would have been no occasion for a suspension pending appeal since a decision imposing the penalty
[36]

of suspension for not more than thirty days or fine in an amount not exceeding thirty days salary is final
and not subject to appeal. (See Book V, Section 47, par. 2 of Executive Order No. 292; Section 7, Rule III
of Administrative Order No. 7, Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, dated April 10,
1990, as amended by Administrative Order No. 17 dated September 15, 2003 which took effect on
November 19, 2003.)
[58]
Supra note 10.
[59]
Supra note 11.
[60]
Supra note 13.
[61]
De la Cruz v. CA, supra note 11, at 797.
[62]
Book V, Title I, Subtitle A, Section 51 of E.O. No. 292.
[63]
Book V, Title I, Subtitle A, Section 47(4) of E.O. No. 292.
[64]
The Court ruled that the absence of a provision in P.D. No. 807 and later in E.O. No. 292 allowing the
payment of back salaries during the period of preventive suspension, unlike in Act No. 2711 and R.A. No.
2260, evidences a legislative intent to disallow payment of back salaries for the period of preventive
suspension regardless of the employees exoneration. But the payment of back salaries per se, that is,
without regard to the duration of the payment, has been consistently recognized.
[65]
864. Officer not entitled to Salary during Suspension from Office. - An officer who has been lawfully
suspended from his office is not entitled to compensation for the period during which he was so
suspended, even though it be subsequently determined that the cause for which he was suspended was
insufficient. The reason given is "that salary and perquisites are the reward of express or implied services,
and therefore cannot belong to one who could not lawfully perform such services.
[66]
Hon. Gloria v. CA, supra note 13, at 762.
[67]
The preventive suspension pending the investigation of the charges is not imposed as a penalty but only
to enable the disciplining authority to conduct an unhampered investigation; the preventive suspension in
this regard is a necessary sacrifice, which holding a public office requires.